bleached out: the story

When living in California I was so empty because of many things, but mostly because for the first time in my life when the most dramatic events of my life happened to me, I was faced to deal with them alone. By alone, I meant not being able to drive or talk to my support system that I had always had since I was a child.


I had always had a community, a familiar city, a place to call home, means to get home fast or heck...even just the energy to get me through hard times. All of that was not present for me in the first few years of living in LA. So I did nothing.
After a year of just walking through the motions, I decided it was finally time to change. I had to start somewhere. I had to figure out who I was, who I wasn’t and where I wanted to go. It took me a while to figure this out but when I did, that led to acknowledging all of these “things,” about me that I was not happy with.
“These “things,” I refer to as “stains,” and here’s why: A stain is a mark that is not easily removed.”
My “things,” started out as tiny problem areas but because I hid them instead of trying to get rid of them, they eventually grew into HUGE problems.  HUGE problems are not easy to remove or cover up.
I am a procrastinator by nature and hate facing conflict, so it was easy for me to act like they never existed. I needed the time to heal, recover and discover myself again so I did just that with the rest of my time in California. 


the move

At the end of 2019 I moved to St. Petersburg, FL. I needed a new place and a new beginning. What felt like a fresh start, quickly turned into a struggle. The first year living here was the toughest change for me, not only because of the pandemic, but because I was still carrying those stains with me still.
Have you ever thought that you had got rid of something, yet to find out they were still there?
I guess I thought moving would get rid of them or cover them up enough that I wouldn’t have to relive thinking about them again. Well I thought wrong. 
Little did I know, a big change was around the corner and that the pandemic would spark action on not only acknowledging those stains, but embracing them, accepting that they are a big part of my story and finally moving on.



the pandemic

During the pandemic (specifically at the beginning when the world was in quarantine), a dear friend of mine was supposed to be living in Bali/traveling for a year, but could not do so until travel was lifted. I was lucky enough that she got to live with me for several months during that awful time. We had several stories that were way more exciting than this one - but this was the one that finally ignited the action I needed to take charge of my life.

the bleach story

Living as roommates, in quarantine as you could imagine, we cooked A LOT of meals which means we cleaned A LOT. I always have a cleaner with bleach in it because growing up, that is all my mom ever cleaned with. My friend did not care for bleach, but was a trooper and cleaned with it. Every time she would clean, she would always get a little bit of bleach on her shirt, that would turn into a stain and would make her so upset. She didn’t understand why it happened because she purposely always waited until it was dry to touch anything she had cleaned with it. I still remember her face, clear as this day, turning and asking me “I hate that bleach always does that, don’t you.? This was my favorite shirt and now I can’t wear it.”
I said yes quickly, but then went into deep thought about this idea. Her question prompted me to think of all of my favorite black shirts, pants, etc. (and anyone who knows me knows that I ALWAYS wear black) that I still wear or do not wear with bleach stains on them. I have had thousands of these experiences with bleach, to say the least, but instead of throwing them out, I kept every one of them. 
I then asked myself - why do you still hold onto them? Well I kept them because there was something special about each one - they were each truly unique and one of a kind. I tried to cover up some of the stains so that I could still wear them by using a black fabric paint pen. This was only a temporary solution because as soon as I would wash the shirt, the paint was gone and the bleach stain was back. What bothered me the most about that process is if you look hard enough, you can tell that it was covered up with paint!! WTF is the point?
Anyways, after thinking about this deeply enough, it sparked a creative idea - what if I revived my bleach stained shirts, into a piece of art that I could wear again? I never told her this, but after that day I started researching how to paint fabric with bleach and never stopped.
Because I am a fashion addict and a DIY junkie, I couldn’t believe I had never tried this yet. At this time, it was March of 2020, when the tie dye and bleach dying trend was starting to hit big. Even though it had been making a comeback for a few years, it hit the number one trend in fashion by the end of 2020.
I didn’t take action on this idea until October of 2020 mainly because of the pandemic and being swamped with work, but I continued to embrace this idea by creating mock-ups and vision boards of what I was going to create.

the birth

October was the month of refresh, recharge. Restrictions were lifted and I was able to get out and discover this new place I was living in. I felt that creative energy that I hadn’t had since living in Chicago years ago.

So I picked up some bleach and started painting. I started with reviving some of my favorite shirts that had stains on them, which then led to dying anything in my closet that I did not wear anymore. Instead of taking it to Goodwill, I painted it with bleach and instantly fell in love with it. I did this also with items that I had purchased but never wore because I didn’t like the color or style.

Then this led into an addiction when I ran out of my own clothes to bleach. I had to look elsewhere and because I am a thrift store junkie I became obsessed with buying unique pieces at thrift stores, second hand boutiques, shops, markets, etc, that I felt needed to be revived by my painting techniques. By the end of 2020, BLEACHED OUT was born. By January of 2021, I had created about 100 pieces and by March I had over 200+ pieces. 

Throughout the birth of Bleached Out, I had felt a release, a creative but therapeutic release of all these “stains,” I had been covering up for many years. I felt cleansed. I hadn’t created anything with my hands as an artist in years, and who would have thought that Bleach would be the first medium I’d use to launch my new business?